How to talk to your parents about estate planning

Estate planning can be critically important for your family. After all, without one, loved ones can end up fighting over assets, not to mention an incapacitated individual’s healthcare and financial decisions might be left up in the air without clear direction. Many people find that reality scary not only for themselves, but for their aging parents, too.

If you fall into this category then you might be trying to find a way to discuss estate planning with your parents. It can be a difficult topic to broach, but hopefully these tips will help you ease into the conversation so that your parents can make the decisions that are right for them and their loved ones.

  • Figure out where they are in the process: Sometimes parents have started estate planning but simply haven’t finished. In other instances they haven’t engaged in it at all. By figuring out where they are at you can help guide them to where they need to be, whether that’s starting from the beginning or merely modifying existing documents.
  • Understand what your parents value: Estate planning is about much more than money and healthcare. It’s about protecting values and those we love. Once you are able to identify what is most important to your parents, you’ll be able to steer the conversation toward estate planning as an answer.
  • Be prepared for multiple conversation: This is a big talk that may be overwhelming if it’s had all at once. Be prepared to piece it out.
  • Let family members know what you’re doing: You don’t want to look like you’re trying to manipulate your parents or coerce them. So make sure your other family members know your intent and include them in the process, if justified.
  • Take notes: Your parents might have a lot to say. Make sure you’re taking notes so that you can remind them of their wishes later on when they are formalizing estate planning documents.
  • Be empathetic: Thinking about your own mortality is difficult. Be understanding of the difficulties your parents face as they consider these matters. This can make the conversation progress more smoothly and have more meaning.

It’s best to discuss estate planning with your parents when they are healthy so that it seems more like planning rather than frantically preparing for the end. If dealing with all of this seems daunting, though, you can also have an estate planning attorney help you with the process by describing estate planning, its process, and how it can prove beneficial.